From carbonara to ramen; try these both classic and creative spins on noodle dishes from Triangle culinary pros.
By Jamaul Moore and Addie Ladner
What’s not to love about a bowl of fettuccini tossed in butter, garlic, cream and parsley? Or a steaming bowl of rice noodles flavored with pork that slow-cooked for hours? Noodle dishes are found across all different cultures and offer endless flavor combinations and belly-filling goodness, especially in these cold winter months. Read on for a handful of must-try pasta recipes from Raleigh chefs and food writers to try at home.
Giorgios Bakatsias’ Pastitsio
Baked with ground beef, kefalotyri cheese, and a pinch of nutmeg, this hearty Greek dish from Triangle restaurateur Giorgios Bakatsias is a true one-pot meal.
How to Make Giorgios Bakatsias’ Pastitsio
2/3 cup olive oil
1 onion, grated
1 pound ground beef
1 soup spoon of tomato paste
Pinch of cinnamon
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley 1 egg white lightly beaten
1 cup grated kefalotyri
11 ounces tubular pasta
4 tablespoons melted butter
2 cups grated gruyère
3 egg yolks beaten
3 cups béchamel (recipe below)
Pinch of grated nutmeg
Heat 1⁄2 cup of the oil in a large pan. Add the onion and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes until softened. Increase the heat to medium, add the ground beef, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring and breaking up the meat with the spatula for 10-15 minutes, until lightly browned. Stir in the tomato paste, cinnamon and parsley and season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
Fold in the egg white and a 1⁄2 cup of the kefalotyri and set aside. Bring a large pot of water to boil, stir in salt and remaining oil, add the pasta and cook for 8-10 mins or until al dente. Drain.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly oil a 10 x 14-inch cazuela or casserole dish. Stir the gruyère cheese into the drained and cooled pasta. Mix together pasta mixture with seasoned ground beef. Pour mixed pasta and beef into a lightly oiled oven-proof cazuela or casserole dish. Fold in the egg yolks and remaining kefalotyri into the béchamel sauce. Season with salt and pepper.
Pour the béchamel sauce over the pasta/beef mixture. Bake for 1 hour or until the top is golden brown. Let the dish stand for 15 minutes prior to serving. Serves 4
Kaitlyn Goalen’s Tomato Sandwich Carbonara
This dreamy, creamy pasta from food writer Kaitlyn Goaln marries a classic Southern tomato sandwich with a beloved Italian dish, carbonara for a dreamy creamy pasta with smoky bacon, creamy egg yolks, sweet tomatoes and bright basil.
How to Make Kaitlyn Goalen’s Tomato Sandwich Carbonara
1 large ripe tomato
2 egg yolks
3 cups plus 1 tablespoon canola oil, divide
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 medium yellow squash, sliced in half lengthwise
½ red onion
2 ears corn
6 slices thick-cut bacon, sliced into batons
1 16-ounce box short pasta, such as penne, macaroni, or orecchiette
½ cup toasted breadcrumbs
¼ cup basil leaves
Set a box grater over a plate. Slice the tomato in half, then grate it, starting with the cut side, until you reach the stem. Discard the stem. In a food processor, combine the egg, egg yolk, and grated tomato. Puree for about 2 minutes, until the mixture is lighter in color. With the motor running, slowly add 3 cups canola oil in a thin stream until it is completely incorporated and the mixture has thickened. Season generously with salt and pepper, and set aside.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Set a cast iron skillet over high heat and add the remaining 1 tablespoon canola oil. When it shimmers, add the squash, cut side down, and sear until charred and blistered, about 5 minutes each side. Transfer the squash to a plate. Add the red onion to the skillet and sear about 7 minutes on each side, then transfer to the plate with the squash. Finally, add the corn and sear, turning frequently, for about 7 minutes, or until the corn is blistered and golden brown.
Roughly dice the squash and red onion and cut the kernels from the corn. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Return the skillet to medium heat and add the bacon. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is crispy and the fat has rendered. Turn the heat to low.
When the water is boiling, add the pasta to the pot and cook according to the package directions. While the pasta is cooking, prepare a large heat-proof bowl with ½ cup of the tomato mayonnaise. Set it next to the skillet with the bacon.
When the pasta is done, strain it, leaving a few inches of the pasta water in the pot. Add the strained pasta to the skillet with the bacon, stirring to coat the noodles in the bacon grease, and return the pot of pasta water to the stove over low heat.
Transfer the contents of the skillet to the bowl with the tomato mayonnaise and stir to coat. Place the bowl to sit over the pot with the simmering pasta water, creating a double boiler (this will help thicken the sauce). Stir constantly until the sauce has reached a thick, creamy consistency and is clinging to each noodle. Add the reserved charred vegetables and stir.
Spoon into bowls and sprinkle with basil and breadcrumbs. Serve immediately. Serves 6
Isaac Shuman’s Guanciale Pesto Pasta
Alimentari at Left Bank chef Isaac Shuman’s go-to summer pasta dish this is a simple, yet flavorful recipe that pairs classic pesto sauce with a little guanciale and sweet tomatoes over a bed of pasta. Shuman makes this at Alimentari, but below is how you can prepare this dish at home.
How to Make Isaac Shuman’s Guanciale Pesto Pasta
1/4 pound guanciale, cut into lardons
2 tablespoons garlic, crushed
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 pound fresh made spaghetti
1 cup of pesto
3 to 5 basil leaves, thinly sliced
Cracker pepper to taste
In a nonstick pan, cook the guanciale on high heat until the fat is rendered, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the guanciale, but do not drain the pan. Cook the garlic and tomatoes in the fat until the garlic is translucent, fragrant and golden, then add the tomatoes. Cook until blistered on the edges and melting slightly.
Meanwhile, put the spaghetti in boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes for fresh pasta, or according to package directions. Add cooked pasta to the pan with the tomatoes and garlic. Then add the pesto, a little at a time. Gently toss together, then add the guanciale back in. Finish with a generous amount of pecorino and fresh basil on top.
Chad McIntyre’s Three Cheese Mac and Cheese
Prepared by the former Market Restaurant chef Chad McIntyre, this decadent twist on on macaroni and cheese combines cheddar, parmesan and gouda cheese for a dish that’s richer than rich — the perfect complement to any dinner party.
How to Make Chad McIntyre’s Three Cheese Mac and Cheese
1 tablespoon salt, plus more for pasta water
1 pound large elbow macaroni
6 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound white Cheddar cheese, shredded
4 ounces Parmesan cheese, shredded
4 ounces gouda, shredded
2 cups panko bread crumbs
In a large pot filled with water, add 3 pinches of salt and the macaroni, and place over high heat. Bring to a boil and let cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain. Set aside.
In a large saucepan, melt butter. Sprinkle flour over butter and cook 2 to 3 minutes on medium heat, whisking until a roux or paste forms. Add cold milk and whisk vigorously until dissolved. Cook sauce on medium-low heat until thick and bubbly. Add heavy cream, all cheeses, 1 tablespoon of salt, and 1 tablespoon pepper. Cook until the cheeses are fully melted, stirring occasionally.
Add cooked macaroni to cheese mixture and mix thoroughly. Place macaroni mixture in a 13 by 9 baking dish and top with bread crumbs. Place in the oven and bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Oscar Gnapi’s Pumpkin Ravioli
A personal favorite of chef Oscar Gnapi at Colletta, this pumpkin ravioli is both sweet and savory with a nutty brown butter sauce. Gnapi prepares his ravioli from scratch daily at Colletta — but you can prepare it at home, too.
How to Make Oscar Gnapi’s Pumpkin Ravioli
1 can pumpkin (Gnapi prefers Libby’s) or one medium sized pie pumpkin, roasted*
1 cup ricotta
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
Salt and pepper to taste
To make the filling:
Combine and whisk all the ingredients until well combined and refrigerate. It is important that the filling is well chilled before you add it to the dough. *To roast the pumpkin (optional): Scoop out seeds, score the inside, add salt, pepper, and olive oil and bake it covered with foil for 1 to 1.5 hours; it should be soft enough to whisk with other ingredients. Scoop out the flesh and refrigerate for a few hours before you mix with other ingredients.
Pasta Dough Ingredients
1 pound 00 Flour
12 egg yolks
2 whole eggs
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons whole milk
To make the pasta
Mix using the standard pasta technique, either mixing by hand on a counter by making a well in the flour and incorporating the liquid ingredients, or in a stand mixer/kitchen aid. Let rest, covered in plastic in the refrigerator until you are ready to roll. Be sure to have it at room temperature for about 30 minutes before you plan to roll the pasta. When ready, roll out with a rolling pin until paper thin. You’ll want to roll many sheets so that you have enough to replicate this with a large rectangle several times. The trick is to be able to see writing on a paper underneath the dough, to know that you’ve rolled it out thin enough.
Roll two sheets of pasta the same size. Use the 6 centimeter ring cutter, imprint your ravioli shape on the bottom sheet only so that you can use that shape as a guide to add your filling. Do not cut all the way through. Use it to stencil the ravioli shape. Use that as a guide to place your filling. Use a 1-ounce ice cream scoop to add your chilled filling.
Using a spray bottle, spray water over the sheet of pasta that has been dotted with the filling. (It’s important that the water covers all of the exposed pasta.) After the filling is dotted on the sheet, place your second sheet of pasta over the bottom layer. Use your cutter to actually cut through the two layers of pasta with filling. Use your finger to press around each ravioli to ensure it adheres. Cook the pasta immediately, or refrigerate for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 1 month. If cooking immediately, cook for 4-5 minutes in boiling, salted water. The ravioli are cooked once they float for 30 seconds to 1 minute. While pasta is cooking, prepare the Brown Butter Sauce.
Brown Butter Sauce Ingredients
1/2 pound unsalted butter
1 tablespoon chopped sage
2 teaspoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
8 ounces water
Parmigiano Reggiano to taste, for garnish
To make the sauce
Using room temperature butter, mix butter with sage, brown sugar and lemon in a bowl by hand. Add water and butter to a large saute pan and bring to a boil. You are looking for the sauce to thicken, and not be too runny. If a wooden spoon scraped on the bottom of the pan makes a lasting streak, then you know your sauce is thick enough. (By adding water, it keeps the butter from burning and creates a thick sauce.) Remove your pasta using a stainless steel strainer and then toss into a sauté pan to coat with the thickened sauce.
Spoon ravioli directly from sauté pan into bowls and garnish with grated parmigiano Reggiano. At Colletta, Gnapi garnishes with spicy candied walnuts, which you can make or buy. Serves about 4 people.
Liz Grandchamp’s Squid Ink Pasta with Buttered Shrimp
This pasta dish from chef and caterer Liz Grandchamp of Grandchamp Hospitality is a feature in her traditional Italian Feast of the Seven Fishes. The decadent dish combines fresh North Carolina shrimp, herbs, butter and Squid Ink Pasta for a deep, sweet flavor.
How to Make Liz Grandchamp’s Squid Ink Pasta with Buttered Shrimp
3 pounds whole shrimp
1 cup salt
2 sticks unsalted butter
5 garlic cloves, peeled and roasted
2 pounds squid ink pasta (can be found at Alimentari)
Zest of 2 lemons
2 tablespoons chives
1 bunch of parsley, chopped
Remove the shells, heads, and tails from your shrimp. Place these pieces into a pot, fill with water and bring to a boil. Keep at medium-high heat for 45 minutes to an hour to create a stock, then strain out shells and set aside the stock. Fill a pot with water and cup of salt, bring to a boil.
While the water comes to a boil, in a separate large saucepan, place one stick of butter on low, along with the roasted garlic. Heat on medium, and once bubbling, deglaze with your shrimp stock. You want to have a medium-thick consistency, and can always add more butter.
Take your shrimp (seasoned with salt and pepper) and place in shrimp butter. Sauté on low until slightly pink. Add your chopped parsley and lemon zest and stir.
Once your water has boiled, drop in the squid ink pasta and cook for 4 to 5 minutes or according to package directions. Once you have an al dente noodle, use tongs to remove the pasta and place directly into your shrimp sauce. Toss until the pasta is coated, season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove off the heat, plate and finish with chives for a pop of color.
Beth Littlejohn’s Turkey Ramen Noodle Soup
Want something other than sandwiches to make from your turkey or rotisserie chicken leftovers? Consider this easy Turkey Ramen Noodle Soup from The Players Retreat chef Beth Littlejohn. It blends green beans, sweet potato and turkey meat and turns it into a dish you can enjoy all year round.
How to Make Beth Littlejohn’s Turkey Ramen Noodle Soup
Turkey Stock Ingredients
1 turkey carcass
4 stalks of celery
4 sprigs of thyme
Tsp of peppercorns
Add all ingredients into a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 4 hours. Strain and set aside. (great to freeze some if you don’t need it all for soup)
Skin from turkey for garnish
2 cups diced cooked turkey meat
1 cup diced cooked sweet potatoes
1 cup diced green beans
½ cup diced onion
2 packs of ramen noodles (you do not need the seasoning packet, just the noodles)
Sauté onions, add stock and bring to a boil. season with a little salt and cook noodles until just al dente. Add green beans, turkey, sweet potatoes and stir to combine.
Season with soy, sriracha and top with crispy turkey skin. (you can really add anything you like in ramen to this, a poached egg, pork belly, green onions, cilantro, etc.)
To crisp the turkey skins, place in a sauté pan with vegetable oil. Turn on to medium/high heat, once skin starts to sizzle turn temperature down to low and turn often. You may need to press with a spatula to keep flat. Once fat is rendered and skin is crisp, set aside, crumble on top of ramen.
Bida Manda’s Pork Belly Soup
This Bida Manda-inspired pork belly soup is a nourishing Laotian meal with coconut milk, cabbage, milk, lime and homemade stock. We suggest making a big batch and freeze to have on hang when those winter colds creep up.
How to Make Bida Manda’s Pork Belly Soup
Soup Broth Ingredients
1 cup shallot, finely chopped
1 cup garlic, finely chopped
1 pound ground pork
1 1/2 gallons pork stock or water
10 lime leaves, finely chopped
3 tablespoons sugar
Salt to taste
1 to 2 cans coconut milk
1 cup peanuts, crushed
1 small can red curry paste
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 limes, in sections
Vegetables and Noodle Ingredients
3 cups purple cabbage, julienned
1 cup cilantro, chopped
1 cup mint leaves
1/2 cup green onion, chopped
2 bags rice noodles
Make the broth. In a big pot over medium heat, combine oil, red curry paste, shallot, and garlic. Stir for a few minutes, until shallot and garlic turn golden at the edges. Add ground pork and stir until pork is fully cooked. Add pork stock, sugar, salt, coconut milk, and lime leaves, and cook until boiled. When the broth is fully boiled, whisk in eggs slowly. Add peanuts. Taste the soup: add more sugar, salt, or coconut milk if needed.
Prepare noodles: Soak rice noodles in a cold water bath for 2 hours, or in a warm-water bath for 45 minutes (noodles tend to break easily when soaked in warm water).
Assemble the bowl
Boil a big pot of hot water. Cook pre-soaked noodles in boiled water for 4 minutes, only enough for one soup bowl at a time. Drain noodles and place in a large serving bowl. Add broth, cabbage, cilantro, mint, and green onion. Serve with chopsticks and lime sections.
This article was originally published on waltermagazine.com on January 24, 2023